Last month saw the publication of Sir Peter Bazalgette’s independent review of the creative industries. Encouragingly, Sir Peter’s review recognizes the value, importance and potential of the UK games industry and proposes a range of measures to grow the sector further.
Access to capital is one of the key factors holding back our sector. Sir Peter proposes that the Government should address this problem by investing £23.7 million over five years in our industry via the UK Games Fund and Transfuser graduate development programme. This will help many developers to access capital and prepare graduates for the challenges of running a studio.
Additionally, Sir Peter recommends that the British Business Bank and Innovate UK should invest more in the creative industries, including the video games sector. He also sensibly calls on the Government to encourage the take-up of R&D tax credits by creative businesses and to examine the definition of what constitutes R&D activity in the creative industries.
Sir Peter advocates a £500m creative clusters fund to maximize regional growth. This fund would support activities including the provision of creative workplaces, knowledge exchange, export and investment promotion, business mentoring and skills support. Our industry is well placed to support regional creative clusters: 80 per cent of the UK video games industry is based outside of London.
The UK has a chance to be lead the field in AR and VR. Sir Peter explicitly calls for investment for cutting-edge, business-led research and innovation projects in immersive reality to ensure the UK takes a global leadership role in developing commercial, cultural and production applications for these technologies. This is good news for UK studios that have embraced immersive technologies.
Encouragingly, Sir Peter’s review recognizes the value, importance and potential of the UK games industry.
Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA
Sir Peter’s recommendations, if enacted, would give a major boost to the UK games industry. Yet the Government should also consider four further points.
Firstly, strong institutions can potentially help to propel economic sectors forward. That is why TIGA has supported the proposal for a British Games Institute. Sir Peter appears to recognise the validity of this argument, noting in his review that “in the longer terms, Government should take a more strategic approach to fostering growth in the games industry and highlighting its cultural impacts.”
Secondly, the UK games industry depends on a highly skilled workforce to succeed. The industry primarily recruits UK educated graduates, but around 15 per cent of our workforce come from other EU states. Our industry needs to be able to recruit highly skilled people from overseas after Brexit.
Thirdly, Government should consider establishing our proposal for a Games Investment Fund (GIF). This would provide grants and pound-for-pound matched funding for developers. The GIF could be managed by the UK Games Talent and Finance Community Interest Company, or by the proposed British Games Institute. Fourthly, Video Games Tax Relief has had a dramatic impact on growth and should be retained and potentially enhanced.
These four proposals, combined with Sir Peter’s review, will support, sustain and strengthen our industry.
Dr Richard Wilson is CEO of TIGA, the award-winning trade association representing the UK video games industry. At TIGA, Richard has successfully campaigned for the introduction of Video Games Tax Relief and introduced an accreditation system for university games courses